Righteousness Comes by Faith

Most people struggle with the idea that faith results in salvation and then followed by righteousness. Paul writes, “ For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message? So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ. But I ask, “Did they not hear?” Yes, they did:

Their voice has gone out to all the earth,and their words to the ends of the inhabited world.” Romans 10:13-18 HCSB.

The entirety of Romans chapter 10 speaks to faith resulting in righteousness and salvation for just as Doctor Luke writes in Acts 4:11-12, “This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders,which has become the cornerstone. There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.” The Gospel Message is founded upon the Risen Savior, Jesus Christ. And in Him alone everyone who is saved finds that  But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10. Truth is, mankind has mostly turned a deaf ear to the Message heralded around the globe for fear of being transformed by the power of the Gospel, “Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2. The will of God is far outside the understanding of man.

The Apostle Paul asks, “What should we say then? Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained righteousness—namely the righteousness that comes from faith. But Israel, pursuing the law for righteousness, has not achieved the righteousness of the law. Why is that? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. As it is written: Look! I am putting a stone in Zion to stumble over and a rock to trip over,yet the one who believes on Himwill not be put to shame.” Romans 9:30-33. The fact is, the lost heart will continue to stumble along in spiritual darkness because their hope is only in what can be achieved without God, the presence of Jesus Christ. They, therefore have ‘stumbled over the stumbling stone, that is, Jesus.

Going further we find, “Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. So those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith. For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written: Everyone who does not continue doing everything written in the book of the law is cursed. Now it is clear that no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous will live. But the law is not based on faith; instead, the one who does these things will live by them. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, because it is written: Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed. The purpose was that the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles by Christ Jesus, so that we could receive the promised Spirit through faith.” Galatians 3:8-14.

There is one common denominator for those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord…a simple lack of faith in the Risen Lord. “ Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession. So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised. For yet in a very little while,the Coming One will come and not delay. But My righteous one and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.” Hebrews 10:32-39. The last two phrases are of utmost importance for everyone, “But My righteous one and if he draws back, I have no pleasure in him. But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life.” Some are destroyed for lack of believing and others obtain eternal life because of their faith.

And what we know is, “Jesus remains Savior and Lord.

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Three Remarkable Truths

“Let whoever is wise understand these things,and whoever is insightful recognize them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” Hosea 14:9 HCSB.

Many years ago there was a television show entitled, “Father Knows Best.” This was one of the most popular shows of all time, I suppose because it was simple and demonstrated what American culture was about, at least, in the most predominant side of our culture. Of course, time changes things dramatically.  That America is no more, for what it is worth.

Unfortunately, just as few paid much attention to “Father Knows Best,” I will suggest fewer give much thought to what the prophetic statement of Joel tells us, yet today. However, I want to examine his words.

God’s Word points us to a very, very poignant statement, “whoever is wise…and whoever is insightful.” These may have been rare people ‘back in the day,’ and the very same most likely holds true in 2022. Listening to events on television newscasts really leaves little doubt. Wisdom and insightful people are far and few between.

As defined by the 1828 edition of Webster’s Dictionary we find:

  1. Wisdom: “The right use or exercise of knowledge; the choice of laudable ends, and of the best means to accomplish them. This is wisdom in act, effect, or practice. If wisdom is to be considered as a faculty of the mind, it is the faculty of discerning or judging what is most just, proper and useful, and if it is to be considered as an acquirement, it is the knowledge and use of what is best, most just, most proper, most conducive to prosperity or happiness. wisdom in the first sense, or practical wisdom is nearly synonymous with discretion. It differs somewhat from prudence, in this respect; prudence is the exercise of sound judgment in avoiding evils; wisdom is the exercise of sound judgment either in avoiding evils or attempting good. Prudence then is a species, of which wisdom is the genus.”
  2. Insight: “Sight or view of the interior of any thing; deep inspection or view; introspection; thorough knowledge or skill. A garden gives us a great insight into the contrivance and wisdom of Providence.”

These two words are absolutely overflowing with the meaning of what God is attempting to tell us in His Word.  Mr. Webster gives evidence of avoiding evil that is the result of the exercise of sound judgment and a complete knowledge of skill sets from God. Godly people will absolutely walk in the teaching of God, but the ungodly will avoid the teachings of God. Everyone I know is personally aware of these things. Some of these people will acknowledge these things of God because He is professed by them, and the others will absolutely deny the existence of the things of God because they deny Him. For just as John writes, “Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.” John 3:18-21.

Really, there is no need to expound upon what Jesus has said because He has made His truth clear.  We are indeed instructed to follow the things of our Lord, and by doing so His truth will make us free and His truth also condemns. 

Jesus is Lord.

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When the End Comes

When the End Comes

We made one last visit to UT Southwest Medical Center in Dallas, Texas the first of September, 2021. The actual date is immaterial, but the cold hard fact is simple, there would be no other. Patti was dying from Non-Hodgkin’s Disease having been diagnosed in June, 2017. However, this was but a continuation of the leukemia diagnosed in 2014. She was sick for two years before the diagnosis came. Her long-term nearly 9-year battle was quickly coming to the feared end that was now in sight. The oncologist would now suggest palliative care and hospice for there were no more chemotherapy options, and there would be no more radiation treatment, “We have no answers for your condition.” 

A few days later Patti turned to me and said, “I am not giving up, but I am submitting to the truth that is facing me. I will call UT and tell them I will not take the remainder of the drugs, but I will call a hospice provider.” 

By now we were at the end of September. Hospice came with all their hospital tools for us to use during the final days of her life. Those end days were terribly difficult as the brutal onslaught of the disease ran its course. The pain was unbearable even with the morphine and other cocktails that she called for ‘as needed.’ 

Family surrounded her, and many friends dropped by for short visits. Everyone knew what was taking place. One of the very last things she said to me the day before she died was simple and powerful, “I love you, Bob and I want you to know that I want to live. I want to live for my grandkids. It is time for me to go Home, it is time for me to see Jesus.” 

On the afternoon of November 8th the hospice nurse came to check on her patient. I caught her outside the front door and asked, “What are we looking at as you see Patti now?” She replied with tears in her eyes, “Mr. Williford, her time is very, very short. I do not think she will live past tomorrow afternoon.” She left and in less than two hours Patti did, too.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 HCSB. 

Grief is a strange thing. As a pastor and missionary for more than 50 years I was an observer and sometimes participant of grief in many ways. Death is not the only reason we humans grieve and I will not attempt to make a list for there are too many items to cite. However, what I know now is that the death of one’s husband or wife may be the most difficult event of all.

There is no end for the grief journey and the grip it has is very, very powerful. There is hope, however. God has given us solutions and everyone who passes through the veil of losing a spouse to the Father in Heaven will understand the Comforter is, indeed, present. Because those of us who are eternally saved by grace through faith will understand what Jesus told His disciples soon before His crucifixion, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” John 14:16-20.

The Helper by the Name of Holy Spirit is present in the body of every Christian, every committed Follower of Jesus Christ. I am where I am today because of His presence in my life, in my body and my praise and honor to Him are unceasing.

On June 18th I married a beautiful Christian woman. She is Sharon, a lady I knew as a 7th grader in Lubbock, Texas. This is a long story and I will not repeat it here. We are survivors of a common trail of tears and grief, and God brought us together for His comforting purposes about which we continue to discover. Sharon was married to Greg Deering for 47 years and I was married to Patti for 50. Someone asked me, “How long have you been married?” I paused and replied, “97 years.”

Jesus is Lord.

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Because I Am Devoted to God

The Psalmist often records God’s promises to deliver those who know and love Him. We may not be participants in longevity in this life nor escape harm while we are here. However, He will eventually answer our cries for help. Please read the contextual evidence surrounding the following Scriptures before forming your opinion or becoming angry.

Joel 2:31-32, “The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and awe-inspiring Day of the Lord comes. Then everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved, for there will be an escape for those on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the Lord promised, among the survivors the Lord calls.” HCSB.

Acts 2:17-21, “And it will be that I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity;then your sons and your daughters will prophesy,your young men will see visions,and your old men will dream dreams. I will even pour out My Spiriton My male and female slaves in those days,and they will prophesy. I will display wonders in the heaven and signs on the earthblood and fire and a cloud of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and remarkable Day of the Lord 21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Rom. 10:8b-13, “The message is near you, in your mouth and in your heart.If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. Now the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on Him will not be put to shame, for there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, since the same Lord of all is rich to all who call on Him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

No matter the issues at hand our God will not leave us alone in turmoil. We do find promises of rescue accomplished by God in His Word, but we may not experience the rescue in this life. We cannot understand this, but He does always rescue the perishing on the other side of the grave. 

We preachers of the Gospel must be very, very careful when we are attempting to comfort those who are struggling with physical and emotional problems.God always gives His blessing to  people who follow His will, but they may not see the blessings here.

Joshua 1:5-11, “No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. I will be with you, just as I was with Moses. I will not leave you or forsake you. “Be strong and courageous, for you will distribute the land I swore to their fathers to give them as an inheritance. Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people: “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get provisions ready for yourselves, for within three days you will be crossing the Jordan to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you to inherit.’”

John 11:17-21, “When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem (about two miles away). Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet Him. But Mary remained seated in the house. Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Yet even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” “Your brother will rise again,”

Matthew 28:16-20, “The 11 disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them. When they saw Him, they worshiped, but some doubted. Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We Followers of Christ must be very, very careful choosing our words shared with those who are presently suffering awful diseases or with those whose loved ones are caring for them. My own father who was suffering from terminal cancer said, “God may not heal me on this side of Heaven, but I will be healed when I leave here.” What we do understand is simple, God adds life to our years and makes that life worthwhile. Our Lord gives many illustrations in Scripture and we sometimes fail to understand, and when we fail to understand, we find this, “I assure you: I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and doesn’t own the sheep, leaves them and runs away when he sees a wolf coming. The wolf then snatches and scatters them. This happens because he is a hired man and doesn’t care about the sheep. “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep. But I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice. Then there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves Me, because I am laying down My life so I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the right to lay it down, and I have the right to take it up again. I have received this command from My Father.” John 10:7-18.

How, then, are we to explain these difficulties, that God has apparently not been faithful to His statements? You and have known many Godly people that have died young, and there are others who have indeed perished at the hands of evil actions. Does this mean that God is unfaithful and we cannot depend upon His statements? Because we view life beyond the grave there should be no difficulty with the truth of Scripture. In the end His deliverance does follow even as He allows some to suffer and others to die at the hands of enemies. WE who are Believers may die young, but we do have eternal life because we are devoted to God as He is faithful to us.

Jesus remains Lord.

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A Hard Look at Deacons and Elders

For some time the use of the word ‘deacon’ as we know it has been a troubled question for me. The office of deacon has been far more emphasized for many generations than is given in Scripture. Most, if not all, Bible translations do not translate the word, but only transliterate it; that is, giving an English pronunciation rather than providing a literal translation. This should be troubling to everyone. There are other words that have been treated in like fashion; baptism being one of them, but I will not address this here.

Are we ignoring biblical guidelines affecting deacons, and now have positions that have absolutely no biblical authority? In fact, some churches give titles such as “Children’s Ministry Director” or “Women’s Ministry Director” or “Lay Counselor.” Those serving in these positions are sometimes Bible instructors, or involved in discipleship and pastoral care. My  question is simple, “Are these biblical positions of leadership?” What biblical criteria are used to support them?” There are obvious biblical standards for leadership, why not use them? Do we have ministry positions developed to fit cultural needs but no biblical authority for assigned offices?

The following question(s) come from the Greek word for “deacon,” found in etymological studies:

The word diakonos or διάκονος, transliterated “deacon” actually means “servant” and  appears 29 times in the New Testament. 36 verses contain the verb diakoneo meaning “to serve” and the noun diakonia defined as “service, ministry, office,” is applied 33 times. Why not use the term correctly? The word diakonos does have a defined meaning. Most often diakonos in the New Testament is defined as helping or serving and not as a deacon in a church setting as you and I might see it used. 

The following verses from the New Testament provide  us with the following:

John 2:9: “…The master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants (diakonoi) who had drawn the water knew.”

 Luke 22:25-27: “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them… But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves (diakonon)… I am among you as one who serves (diakonon).”

 John 12:26: “Whoever serves (diakone) me must follow me; and where I am, my servant (diakonos) will also be. My Father will honor the one who serves (diakone) me.” 

Romans 13:4: “[The ruler] is God’s servant (diakonos) to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant (diakonos), an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” 

Eph 3:7: “I became a servant (diakonos) of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given to me through the working of his power.” 

1 Timothy 4:6: “If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister (diakonos) of Christ Jesus…” In these five instances diakonos expresses the idea as “servant.” Looking more closely we find diakonos used in the NT to describe the office of deacon as we understand it. Look briefly at Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3:8-13.

 Philippians 1:1: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons…” In both of these instances the Greek term diakonos is utilized,  why not use them in the same way in the same verse…as servants?

1 Timothy 3:8-13: “Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove 

themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” 

Diakonos contains the idea of servant. Is a deacon a servant of Christ and His church? But we might say, “not everyone who serves God or the church does so in the official capacity of deacon.” Some might say that every deacon is a servant, not every servant is a deacon, but because Believers are to serve the local church these are servants of the Lord.

Does the office of Deacon really exist in the New Testament? The fact that there are only two clear references to the office in the New Testament has caused some to question whether or not it does exist. Some suggest that elders and deacons in Philippians 1:1 are only defined activities in the church at Philippi but not as offices. I must, however, decline the suggestion. Elders and deacons are indeed, offices specified by Paul, but the office of deacon as we understand it does not. There is an office of a servant, but not that of a deacon.

The New Bible Dictionary gives us this explanation, “There is little to suggest that in New Testament times the term ‘deacon’ is ever more than semi-technical.” Another writer, Hermann Beyer, a Continental scholar, tells us that Paul’s first statement from Philippians 1:1 “is a reference to the office of deacon: In Paul’s statement our understanding of the office deacon can be linked to elders.”

When Paul wrote the Philippian letter there were two offices and one may be more important. Is a deacon the role of a servant in the local church and is any church member able to fill that post? If the word “deacon” points to an office should there not be both elders and deacons in God-ordained offices? We must remain in biblical context.

Do the writers of the New Testament direct us to the office of deacon, or better said, servant? We find these two statements of Paul in Philippians 1:1 and 1 Timothy 3 and these men are sitting next to the elders. Paul and Peter are speaking of elders to be appointed by the apostles with doctrinal instruction and care. We are able to observe this in Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3 and Titus 1:9.

In Acts 14:23 Luke records that Paul “had appointed elders for them in the various churches, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the protection of the Lord in whom they had believed.” Paul instructed Titus to “appoint elders in every town” on the island of Crete, “The reason I left you in Crete was to set in order the remaining matters and to appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of one wife, with faithful children who cannot be charged with dissipation or rebellion. For the overseer must be blameless as one entrusted with God’s work, not arrogant, not prone to anger, not a drunkard, not violent, not greedy for gain. Instead he must be hospitable, devoted to what is good, sensible, upright, devout, and self-controlled. He must hold firmly to the faithful message as it has been taught, so that he will be able to give exhortation in such healthy teaching and correct those who speak against it.” Titus 1:5-9. 

Paul gives this in 1 Timothy 3:8 -13,  Deacons likewise must be dignified, not two-faced, not given to excessive drinking, not greedy for gain, holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And these also must be tested first and then let them serve as deacons if they are found blameless. Likewise also their wives must be dignified, not slanderous, temperate, faithful in every respect. Deacons must be husbands of one wife and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.” We must translate the word ‘deacon’ to be ‘servant,’ and not transliterate it.

Acts 6:1-4, Here Luke gives foundation for the places of elder and servant leadership. However, we must not forget the reason for the appointment. There was a complaint from the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebrews because the widows were ignored in the distribution of food. The Apostles then responded by calling on the congregation in vv. 2-3,  “So the twelve called the whole group of the disciples together and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to wait on tables. But carefully select from among you, brothers, seven men who are well-attested, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this necessary task.”  However, because the noun ‘deacon’ is not used here we should not suggest that these men were to be the first deacons. A great disservice has been accomplished by transliterating the Greek verb ‘διακονίᾳ’ to indicate something that is not. The word only tells us that the Greek widows were not being served. “Served” is the appropriate verb, not the use of the noun taken from the same root word. The apostles did not establish the office of deacon in Acts chapter 6.

In my opinion, elders must be the priority. The local church should begin with the appointment of qualified elders. Paul planted a new church with elders followed by the servants. Elders are given to theological, doctrinal, and moral training by faithfully teaching Scripture. The servants are given to the practical leadership instructed by the elders. To transliterate the Greek word is simply not correct. Elders delegate tasks to deacons as servants in ministry under the direction of the elders.

Paul writes into his friend Timothy 1 Timothy 3:8-13 with definite qualifications for the place of servants in the church and women are not allowed to be “teaching or exercising authority over a man.” In the context of 1 Timothy, there is a clear restriction on authoritative leadership in the church. The Apostle demands elders to be men as the biblical roles of men and women in the home and the church: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church (he himself being the savior of the body). But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word, so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body, but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of his body.  For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:22-33. Both men and women as servants/helpers must follow the male elders within God’s instructions. The biblical qualifications for elders are specific to men, while the qualifications for helpers can include women. 

The egalitarian view of the role of women in the church is determined by a foundation of sand, not solid rock. From the late 20th Century is found much talk about the role of women in the church. The role of women finds root in the book of Genesis and continued in the New Testament. We do find, at best, suggestions, but no clear statements that men and women are on the same footing socially. We must comply with the Word of God.

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 under Article XVIII, The Family, states, “The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.” 

Galatians 3:28 is a Pauline statement of equality, but we must keep this verse within the context of the entire letter to the church in Galatia. Paul is not suggesting in any manner whatsoever anything about social order. NONE!!

Notice again what the Apostle clearly states in 1 Timothy 2:9-15, “Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing, but with good deeds, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God. A woman must learn quietly with all submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet. For Adam was formed first and then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression. But she will be delivered through childbearing, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control.” 

No, I am NOT an egalitarian, no, not at all. But, can women serve in the local church? The answer is obvious, “yes,” so long as they are willing to follow the instructions of the appointed elders just as the Word of God instructs. Elders are to be men only and deacons are to be understood as being servants of the Lord, both biblically qualified men and women following the directives of the Elders.

In most cases, however, we Baptists for the most part are a very long way from this. There is a conflagration of how men and women serve in our churches. Whether we like it or not most women are the real driving forces of our church and the Deacons mostly serve at their bequest; their beckoning call. Elders are becoming more and more popular in some settings as young Pastors are beginning to understand. Our social order is changing in all of our churches.

I might add that for many years my wife and I served as missionaries to Peru under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention. Observing our women missionaries helped me to determine their invaluable service to our Peruvian churches. They were extraordinary in their service to God. Many excelled as both teachers and speakers giving biblical directions in every manner. They worked just as hard and successfully as their men counterparts. Peruvian women accomplished just as much as did their men in the local churches. I might add, these were Peruvian Baptist churches and not Southern Baptist churches.

As more and more churches are ordaining women in places of leadership and elders are beginning to emerge in others we will find a greater division as a result. Most likely, I will not see the solutions of the issues and I am much better for it. As I write this the great divide among Baptists will continue to grow and grow. There will be more quakes to come, perhaps big ones. May the Lord bless.

But, Jesus remains Lord of His Church.

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Ezekiel 28:11-19

There is a difficult question concerning these 9 verses taken from the 28th chapter of Ezekiel. The question is, “Are these verses speaking of the fall of Satan?”

 My interest is always found in the contextual study of the Word of God and this is no different. We MUST consider viewing the surrounding chapters of these verses chosen for study. Look here for some help, “‘Thus says the Lord God, “When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and will manifest My holiness in them in the sight of the nations, then they will live in their land which I gave to My servant Jacob. They will live in it securely; and they will build houses, plant vineyards and live securely when I execute judgments upon all who scorn them round about them. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God.”‘ Ezekiel 28:25-26 NASB.

I think the context views the future of Israel and that of the surrounding nations of Israel. There is no doubt this prophecy is not a mere restoration of Israel, but we find all nations and kingdoms including the Body of Christ. Everyone who knows God will be gathered in triumph over evil. The power of evil over the nations of the earth will be defeated by the eternal establishment of the Kingdom of Christ..

From Barnes Notes on Ezekiel 28:1 we read, “The prophecy against the prince of Tyre. Throughout the east the majesty and glory of a people were collected in the person of their monarch, who in some nations was worshiped as a god. The prince is here the embodiment of the community. Their glory is his glory, their pride his pride. The doom of Tyre could not be complete without denunciation of the prince of Tyre. Idolatrous nations and idolatrous kings were, in the eyes of the prophet, antagonists to the true God. In them was embodied the principle of evil opposing itself to the divine government of the world. Hence, some of the fathers saw upon the throne, not simply a hostile monarch, but “the Prince of this world, spiritual wickedness (or wicked spirits) in high places.” Whenever evil in any way dominates over good, there is a “prince of Tyrus,” against whom God utters His voice.”

You and I MUST understand the power of Satan, and God has already condemned him and will ultimately destroy him. But to answer your question concerning the insertion of Satan in Ezekiel 28:11-19 is a bit of a stretch for many as he is NOT mentioned except by implication, and the same holds true for Adam. Years ago a seminary professor said to a class I was attending, “We must remain silent when the Bible is silent and speak when the Word speaks.” We must be very, very careful by stating things that are ‘implied’ in the Inspired Text. While we study the Word of God we MUST avoid the temptation to insert assumptions into the purpose and meaning of what Ezekiel has written.

We could see these verses as a glimpse of the “New Jerusalem” coming down out of Heaven when Christ returns. There are many references concerning Mount Zion in the Old Testament. One that stands out is from Zechariah 8:1-8 we find these words, “Then the word of the Lord of hosts came, saying, 2 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I am exceedingly jealous for Zion, yes, with great wrath I am jealous for her.’ 3 Thus says the Lord, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’ 4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age. 5 And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’ 6 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the Lord of hosts. 7 Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold, I am going to save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; 8 and I will bring them back and they will live in the midst of Jerusalem; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness.”

So, the end of Ezekiel is clearly talking about a time that has not yet happened. God’s people will indeed live securely in their own land, but this is talking about the end of days, the new heavens and earth. But let us go back to your question concerning Adam and Satan. I speak of context, and biblically speaking, I clearly understand how either Adam or Satan can be, and are, inserted into the text for prophetic reasons. It is interesting to see that Satan is, however, the motivating force behind the evil of the King of Tyre. F.B. Huey, Jr, a noted Hebrew Scholar identifies “four Hermeneutical options: 1) the ‘literal history’ of Satan’s fall; 2) the king of Tyre as “a satanic person”; 3) the king or kingdom of Tyer under judgment, couched in the language of the familiar paradise story; and 4) the fall of the king or kingdom of Tyer as parallel to the fall of Adam (and Eve).  Layman’s Bible Book Commentary, vol. 12, Ezekiel, Daniel.

I do not find it erroneous to say that Satan’s fall is to be found in Ezekiel 28:11-19, but my inclusion of him within this text is somewhat difficult as I read the surrounding chapters. My answer is found in what I read and will say without hesitation that Satan is the source of the evil of the King of Tyre AND old Slewfoot is also the source of evil in the world. 

Jesus is Lord.

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Jesus Gives Sight to Spiritual Blindness

Spiritual blindness is the reason Jesus died on the Cross outside the walls of Jerusalem. No matter, the religious of His day did not recognize the Christ as their Messiah nor as the One who had come to shed light in the darkness of the world He created. The fact that Jesus died on a criminal’s cross gives us indication of the scorn mankind holds for God; period. I will encourage you to read John chapter 9 in order to gain some insight to this lasting sin of humanity.

“Then they summoned the man who used to be blind a second time and said to him, “Promise before God to tell the truth. We know that this man is a sinner.” He replied, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. I do know one thing—that although I was blind, now I can see.” Then they said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he cause you to see?” He answered, “I told you already and you didn’t listen. Why do you want to hear it again? You people don’t want to become his disciples too, do you?” They heaped insults on him, saying, “You are his disciple! We are disciples of Moses! We know that God has spoken to Moses! We do not know where this man comes from!” The man replied, “This is a remarkable thing that you don’t know where he comes from and yet he caused me to see! We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but if anyone is devout and does his will, God listens to him. Never before has anyone heard of someone causing a man born blind to see. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”  They replied, “You were born completely in sinfulness, and yet you presume to teach us?” So they threw him out.” John 9:24-34 NET2.

Two very compelling questions are often asked, 

1. “Do my prayers for someone’s salvation change God’s will if that person is saved or not?” and, 

2.”Does praying for someone’s salvation and also sharing the gospel to them affect if they will be saved?” 

Look closely at these words of Paul in Romans 9:1-5, “I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit — I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed—cut off from Christ—for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.” Paul was, indeed, concerned for his fellow Jewish friends because they were ‘cut off from Christ.’ Jews will NOT go to Heaven, as we will not, without committing themselves to the Lord by grace through faith. 

If God wants everyone to be saved, will not all be saved? The answer is “no” because His desire for absolute salvation of all mankind is not as strong as some other of His desires. This is a difficult admission on our part, but we know that God wishes for everyone have enough freedom to believe or disbelieve the gospel more strongly than He desires that everyone be saved, “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.” John 3:16-18. Otherwise everyone will NOT believe and this is a part of the human struggle for faith.

“And the King will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels! For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat;I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger and you didn’t take Me in;I was nakedand you didn’t clothe Me,sick and in prison and you didn’t take care of Me.’ “Then they too will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or without clothes, or sick, or in prison, and not help You?’ “Then He will answer them, ‘I assure you: Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me either.’ “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:41-46 HCSB. Somehow it will result in God’s greater glory for some to perish than for all to experience salvation. Nevertheless, God sincerely “desires” that every person come to salvation.

What can be determined from the Word of God is the will of God: 

1. The Sovereign will of God will be completely fulfilled. “Remember this and be brave;take it to heart, you transgressors! Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and no one is like Me. I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will. I call a bird of prey from the east, a man for My purpose from a far country. Yes, I have spoken; so I will also bring it about. I have planned it; I will also do it. Listen to me, you hardhearted, far removed from justice: I am bringing My justice near; it is not far away, and My salvation will not delay. I will put salvation in Zion, My splendor in Israel.” Isaiah 46:8-13. 

2.  The Moral Will of God is disobeyed by everyone; “Now may the God of peace, who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus—the great Shepherd of the sheep—with the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 equip you with all that is good to do His will, working in us what is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Glory belongs to Him forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21.

3.  The Desires of God have foundation in His love, and are included in His sovereign will. “This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given assurance to us from His Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent His Son as the world’s Savior. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God—God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, for we are as He is in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:13-19.

What we know is simple: God does not desire that any should perish, but it is clear that most will not be saved because of their denial of the Son. “Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars—their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Revelation 21:5-8.

Finally, please know this, “I am NOT a Calvinist, but realize the completeness of God’s will found in Scripture cannot be denied and must NOT be neglected.” Yes, He desires salvation for everyone, but NOT all will come to Him by faith: this is the freedom of the will He has given to every person. Do my prayers change the hearts of those for whom I pray? This I do not know, but I pray anyway. Yes, the prayers of the faithful do affect the lives for whom I pray IF they respond to the will and call of God upon them. I am NOT responsible for their response to Him. AND YOU are NOT responsible for your friends, either. The weight of eternity is upon them, NOT you. As Believers we are instructed to remain faithful to our Lord in all things, “Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20.

Jesus is Lord.

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Our Calling, Our Responsibility

In 1 Corinthians Paul spends a good deal of time explaining his responsibility as a Believer being different from those in the cultures around him. We are to be the light in the surrounding darkness. Your friend is an Egyptian, perhaps a Muslim who follows an idol, a false god. And here is what Paul writes, “About eating food offered to idols, then, we know that “an idol is nothing in the world,” and that “there is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth—as there are many “gods” and many “lords” —  yet for us there is one God, the Father. All things are from Him, and we exist for Him. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through Him, and we exist through Him.” 1 Corinthians 8:4-6 HCSB.

Personally, I lived many years serving as a missionary in Latin America where Catholicism is the ‘state church.’ The Catholic religion holds sway over the hearts and minds of most people there. However, there are several other Christian missionaries and churches dotting the landscape as well as all sorts of  ‘-isms.’ One never knows what may be found nor where. All sorts of gods are worshiped just as they are in America. America is no different.

Because this is true, please look at what Paul states in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. “Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law — though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, so I may become a partner in its benefits.” Perhaps the key statement here is, “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.” (v. 22.) 55 years ago I began the journey to which God called me, and, indeed, His call included becoming all things to all people wherever I met them. This is the challenge for everyone who claims the Name of Jesus. “

May I suggest that we spend some time with those within our circle of influence learning about who they are and what they believe? Most of the time as we share the Gospel this opportunity is not present for ‘street witnessing’ is a ‘hit and miss’ moment for our subjects will most likely not see us again. But, when there are friends and neighbors involved, the opportunity to know them becomes the most important thing we do in becoming all things to them. Paul writes, “Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; to those under the law, like one under the law—though I myself am not under the law—to win those under the law. To those who are without that law, like one without the law—not being without God’s law but within Christ’s law—to win those without the law. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak.” When the Apostle suggests that he became ‘like’ another, he does not suggest we shed our Chrisitan faith, but he is instructing us to know and to understand who these people are in order to be able to share the power of the Gospel with them.

“I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish. So I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:14-17. The ball is in your court. You must take some time to learn about this person in order to become all that you can become in order to share the powerful message of truth that can change the heart of your friend.

Do not be discouraged. Over the course of many years and untold opportunities to share my faith, I will suggest that maybe, 2 of every 10 people who heard the message from me made positive decisions and I have no idea how many of them are Believers today. The point is that God only is responsible for the result of His Message and the mission He has called us to. We are the messengers of His Truth and He is the Savior. God Bless you in your journey.

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There is But ONE

And His Name is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 NET2. He was here in the Beginning, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1. And, this is but THE BEGINNING for mankind, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was fully God. The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. And the light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness has not mastered it.” John 1:1-5. Many questions have been asked by us among whom there are many who do not believe, however, Jesus said this, “I told you and you do not believe. The deeds I do in my Father’s name testify about me. But you refuse to believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; no one will snatch them from my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can snatch them from my Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” John 10:25-30. 

Seven times in the inspired book of John, Jesus said, “I Am.” This statement is, perhaps, the most informative about the Christ that we have. Here they are:

  1. “I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty. But I told you that you have seen me and still do not believe. Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. Now this is the will of the one who sent me—that I should not lose one person of every one he has given me, but raise them all up at the last day. For this is the will of my Father—for everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 1:35-40.
  2. “I am the light of the world! The one who follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees objected, “You testify about yourself; your testimony is not true!”  Jesus answered, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you people do not know where I came from or where I am going. You people judge by outward appearances; I do not judge anyone. But if I judge, my evaluation is accurate because I am not alone when I judge, but I and the Father who sent me do so together. It is written in your law that the testimony of two men is true.  I testify about myself and the Father who sent me testifies about me.” John 8:12-18.
  3. “I tell you the solemn truth, I am the door for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. John 10:7-10.
  4. “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not come from this sheepfold. I must bring them too, and they will listen to my voice, so that there will be one flock and one shepherd.” John 10:14-16.
  5. In the moment of a seemingly unfortunate death, Jesus said,  “Your brother will come back to life again.” Martha said, “I know that he will come back to life again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world.” John 11:23-25.
  6. Sometimes, even His disciples seemed to be confused about WHO Jesus was, “ Thomas said, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus replied, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:5-7.
  7. Do you know WHOSE are you? “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-4.

Much, much more I could say and not complete all that can be said about Jesus, how about the aseity of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Take a look,  Your conduct must be free from the love of money, and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can people do to me?” Remember your leaders, who spoke God’s message to you; reflect on the outcome of their lives and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! Do not be carried away by all sorts of strange teachings. For it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not ritual meals, which have never benefited those who participated in them.” Hebrews 13:5-9. 

BUT, “what does aseity mean,” You might ask. Here it is from Webster’s, “the quality or state of being self-derived or self-originated

specifically : the absolute self-sufficiency, independence, and autonomy of God.” He does NOT need or ask for our help in anything. We need Him. He does NOT need us or me or you. God is autonomous or absolutely self-sufficient. Enough of this. 

God is THE Father, Son and Holy Spirit and there is salvation in nothing else. Jesus is THE Savior and His salvation is for now by grace through faith in Him alone. (Ephesians 2:8-10.) 

Jesus is Lord.

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Am I a Southern Baptist, Yet?

Christian faith is practiced as a call not simply to a personal conversion but to personal social reform through face-to-face evangelism. However, the Gospel Message’s emphasis must be understood as “it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.” Romans 1:16-17 NetBible2.

I view and understand the social gospel addresses the Gospel through those who supported and used Christian principles in their attempt to correct social problems. Many living during the 19th and 20th centuries suffered from bad nutrition, bad health systems, weak education, alcohol abuse, crime, and warfare across the world. One only has to scan historical records to know that biblical theology of sin, salvation, heaven and hell, and the Kingdom of God was somewhat ignored. Much of the same is happening here in the 21st century. Those embracing the Social Gospel were/are theologically liberal and enjoy the postmillennial view of eternity that Christ’s second coming will not occur until humanity somehow cures itself of social evil. These thinkers teach that Christians must concentrate only on the present system of evil while ignoring the second coming of Christ. Personal salvation was not and is not the issue at hand. Revival preaching and events have grown silent.

The social gospel proclaims a god without wrath while pursuing people without presenting sin and evil as spiritual darkness without judgment through a redeemer without a cross. There is less of a biblical gospel message today than there was 50 years ago. The message of the social gospel is nothing less than the improvement of social ills with the hope of salvation. People are basically seen as being good and society will somehow improve and eliminate the Gospel of God resulting in the salvation of the lost. These misguided souls seem to think “if we feed enough people, properly educate the children, dig enough wells, clean up the air and redistribute wealth God’s kingdom will be found. And, if we emphasize love, justice, brotherhood, and goodwill toward men, greed and selfishness will be overcome with their goodness.” None of this nonsense can be found in the Word of God wherein the redemption of the heart of man can only take place if lost humanity pursues the God of the Bible.

Using the Word of God to properly define the Social Gospel must view the Christ who lived in history’s darkest moment. Our Lord did not seek to change the government as He ignored the pressure of those who listened to Him to be King. We find in John 6:15 that the Jews attempted to force Jesus to follow their wishes to define Jesus’ popularity. Sadly, we may be seeing much of the same going on today.

This was not His chosen time to establish His kingdom on earth. Jesus’ ministry was not for a secular social change, but His mission was to change the hearts of people for eternity. He did not come to remove poverty but to wipe out sin, John 1:29-34, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I watched the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He rested on Him. I didn’t know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One you see the Spirit descending and resting on—He is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!” HCSB.

Jesus’ primary ministry was and continues to justify people before God, “Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” Romans 5:1-4.  Mark recorded in his narrative that human poverty will remain with us, “Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a noble thing for Me. You always have the poor with you, and you can do what is good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body in advance for burial. I assure you: Wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.” Mark 14:6-9. Jesus did not come to earth to be a political or social reformer, but He taught the primacy and power of faith in God, the need to be born again, and commitment toward God. His Message challenges and changes the human heart of mankind through the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, He alone changes society.

The social gospel is more concerned about circumstances here on earth with little emphasis on the darkness and sin of the human heart. However, we must not ignore the Gospel does not bypass physical human needs but is mostly concerned about the condition of the souls of men and their eternal destiny. I have observed the drilling of wells in mountainous regions helping to improve the life of many villages.  This is good and right and must be commended. However, if the darkness never hears of the water that Jesus tells us about, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well “Sir,” the woman said to Him, “give me this water so I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.” John 4:13-14. Lost people will go to Hell. 

No, I am NOT a Follower of Jesus Christ because I am a Southern Baptist. I became a Southern Baptist by choice because the doctrine I hold is the same as reflected by the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and found in Holy Writ. I am a Christian, a Follower of the Christ because of the grip of His grace on my heart and life, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10. Yes, I am a Christian follower of Jesus Christ and a Southern Baptist, yet.

Jesus is Lord.

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